Fall 2020 Announcements

CIF Presents Virtual Seminar (9/5): How to Succeed in CS in College

Posted on August 30th, 2020

Posted by Jack Yu

So usually this time of year we do a Unix seminar, it’s always the same boring commands, which probably should have Googled (or DuckDuckGo’ed) already, that we reiterate and try to make people think it’s the next best thing since sliced bread. So this year, we decided to change it up a bit. We have too many topics, too little time. So what are we doing now?

We’re gonna provide the entry point for all these skills so you can choose the interesting ones to search for yourself!

This upcoming Saturday (9/5) at 2pm. We will be doing a talk on “How to Succeed in CS in College”. Covering a wide range of topics of what you are expected to know learning Computer Science in college, like Git, Bash, Linux/Unix, Breakpoint debugging, and more! We will cover just enough so that people can have a solid idea of what keywords to search for. So drop by and see what skills that you may need to brush up on!

Time: Sat, 9/5 2pm-3pm
Zoom link: https://rochester.zoom.us/j/95206947356

Thank you CIRC!

Posted on August 28th, 2020

Posted by Jack Yu

The Center for Integrated Research Computing (CIRC) has just donated three Dell servers. These servers not only allow us to replace our old dying VM server, but also provided us with the resources to better support our remote members in these times.

Some of you may remember that Spring 2020, we were looking for a new HBA controller for setting up our new lab infrastructure. It was CIRC that provided us with the controller. Both these times, it was Carl Schmidtmann who took time out of his busy schedule to make sure that we can get the hardware that we needed. Without his help, none of the recent changes in the lab could have happened.

So thank you, Carl and CIRC, for continuously supporting us throughout the year, especially in these difficult times. Your generous contributions to the CIF lab will be utilized to provide better service to not only our members, but the entire campus community. For those interested in CIRC, please check out their page here: https://www.circ.rochester.edu/

SIH Virtual Minecraft Night

Posted on August 25th, 2020

Posted by Jack Yu

AIF (Anime Interest Floor), CIF (Computer Interest Floor), MIF (Music Interest Floor) and Drama House are here to bring you our first big event of the year: SIH Virtual Minecraft Night!

Join us as we play Minecraft together with old friends, new friends and more on our Minecraft server this Friday 8/28 at 7pm. Meet with members of various Special Interest Housing groups in Minecraft and learn how SIH differs from traditional clubs. But most importantly, talk with us through Discord voice chat! What is Minecraft night if you’re just playing Minecraft on your own without people to talk to? So here are the links to the various SIH voice channels. Hop into the ones you’re interested in, talk to people, and have a blast!

AIF – discord.gg/d3dQ7KC
CIF – discord.gg/TMKXqJc
MIF – discord.gg/jfAJRBt
Drama House – discord.gg/HK4pr4V

Of course, we can’t forget the link to the Minecraft server! So here it is:
minecraft.cif.rochester.edu:443

So here it is everybody! The first big SIH event of the year, and we look forward to crafting, talking, relaxing with you all soon!

Virtual Activities Fair

Posted on August 25th, 2020

Posted by Jack Yu

For those interested in CIF at the Virtual Activities Fair, you may find it strange that there is no booth for CIF. Why is that the case?

CIF is under the umbrella organization SIH (Special Interest Housing), with our friends at AIF (Anime Interest Floor), MIF (Music Interest Floor), Greenspace and more. Because of this, we will be doing a joint panel at the virtual activities fair under the SIH organization booth.

Feel free to join us and ask us questions at the fair! And if you are reading this after the fair is over, you can always ask questions about us on our Discord server discord.gg/TMKXqJc . See you then!

Join Our Discord Server!

Posted on August 14th, 2020

Posted by Jack Yu

Hello everyone,

With a majority of our members (and university population) being away from campus this semester, we will be conducting events online via Discord. Feel free to join our Discord server if you want to hangout with us, even if you aren’t a member yet! You can join the Discord server here!

2020 Status Update

Posted on August 14th, 2020

Posted by Jack Yu

Hello everybody, Jack here providing some long needed status updates.

As you can see, the last post on this website has been posted by my predecessor at the beginning of the term. That was in January of 2019. More than one and a half years have passed and not much has been updated on this website. So what happened to CIF in this 1.5 year period? Did we just disappear like the source code for Icewind Dale 2?

Of course not. There has been several compounding factors that caused a long hiatus in the website’s updates. But in order to let you all know the tale, this will be quite a long read. So if you’re ready to dive into a 1.5-year-long tale in the brewing, good luck and here it goes:

First off, the website. Our old web server web1 has been fairly well integrated into our infrastructure at the time. It uses krb5 for logins (AD for WordPress itself), we had a memcache server running on a separate machine, we also split the backend of the website into multiple Apache websites running on separate domains (media, panel, cdn and WordPress) each using their own separate certificate. However, some of this was not well documented. I had found out about how some of these configured only in the past month. And here are where the issues come from.

The cache server was the first to go. At this point I’m not sure when it was decommissioned. With the cache server down, the website was still attempting to reconnect to the server on each request until it reaches a timeout! This made the whole site slower than necessary for a quite some time. But at least it was still usable.

With the introduction of a DMZ into our network for extra security, several of our servers were moved to new IPs. This was a pretty big issue as none of our authentication were functional because of the move. Partially due to the IP change, another part due to the DMZ blocking the communication. In any case, the only thing functional was a master account that was used for uploading plain text posts. No media could be uploaded due to that being separate from WordPress.

Last but not least, the certificates for the website are due to expire each year by May. And since there is nobody in the lab in May, these certs usually would be replaced in September when somebody can finally contact IT and get them to issue us new certs. Since the website is three separate domains linked with rewrite rules and the cdn serves the css and scripts. Once the certificates expire, the website completely breaks.

Due to all three of these things, the website is perpetually in a broken and slow state. As a result, we have decided to focus more on the University provided CCC instead of our own website, to mixed results.

However, that has now changed with the most recent lab infrastructure upgrade. All servers that ranged from Debian 7 to Windows Server 2012 have now have all been retired, our new infrastructure is based on the newly released CentOS 8, with RedHat IDM replacing our old AD system. This website has also been migrated and reconfigured with a new cache server set up and had its certificates replaced with one signed by LetsEncrypt, with an auto-renew script that runs on a systemd timer.

So what does that mean? It means that the website is now the fastest it has been in the past 5 years, it also means that the website will break less, and more secure as its running on a server with automatic security updates and SELinux.

Much more in the lab has been replaced and upgraded. The card reader software, the lab machines, the new storage server, etc… Despite the complications with COVID-19. The CIF lab is still well maintained and cared for. With this new setup, these servers should be able to take care of security updates themselves without maintenance for the next 6+ years!

With the new semester being partially online, much of the events and updates will be posted on Discord. I promise that the website will not be neglected. In any case, stay tuned and look out for our next update!

Jack